AN ENCOUNTER WITH DEATH
My head was swerving around in all directions. My eyelids felt very heavy and I was unable to open them. I felt a cold metal bed under me. I could feel the presence of a number of people around me. I could hear sighs, moans, cold murmurs and sobs. But I could not identify any of the voices. A repugnant odour, peculiar to a hospital, was disturbing me. I couldn’t feel my own legs. It was as if they were floating in mid air. My left hand was clutching on to a metallic rod. It was probably the stand used to hang insulin tubes. A head was resting below my right shoulder. The portion of my shirt under him was soaked, probably with his tears.
There was something terribly wrong with me. What was it? Was I dead? Hold on, my brain is working just fine. In my semi-conscious, dilapidated state, I tried my very best to think. With my brain in a totally confused state, I began to gather my thoughts and tried to remember the last thing that had happened to me. And then it slowly started coming back to me.
It was a Saturday night. I had a wild booze party with my cousins in Malad and was on my way home. It was 4 a.m. and the roads were deserted. The alcohol had slowly but surely started affecting my nerves, but I kept riding at a steady pace of 60. I was almost there, but just as I was turning right to enter my apartment gate....
“Don’t mix drinking and driving” is what everyone around me used to warn me about. The faces of all those people kept running through my mind. My parents, sister, friends... Oh! Wish I had heeded to their advice. I wish I hadn’t been such an arrogant ass-hole. It was the pride of not meeting with an accident till date that did me.
A truck had appeared from nowhere and was steadily approaching me. The alcohol had done enough damage to stop me from reacting in that split second. I stood there, surrendering to the will of The Almighty (and maybe alcohol). The glare from the headlights of the truck was all I could see and that was the last thing I could remember. I could still feel its blaze under my eyelids.
A stern, harsh voice of an elderly man brought me back to reality. The voice sounded familiar but I couldn’t recognise it. Was he my doctor? I could hear the words ”accidents”, “coma”, “living-will”. The people sitting around me had become very emotional and were getting into an argument with the doctor.
That’s when I heard the word that totally shook me. “Euthanasia”. Were they planning to kill me? How many months had it had been since the party? I had to make an effort to tell them that I was alive. It was now or never.
I concentrated all my energy on my eyelids and tried profusely to open them. In the third attempt I found success. With my eyes half open, under the crescent shape of my eyelids the first thing I saw was the peculiar way in which my left hand was resting. It was upright and holding a fat metallic pen. I rotated my head to the right to find Baba’s head on my shoulder and his drool dripping down from his mouth on to my moist blue shirt. The foul hospital-like smell hit me again and turned to my left. The girl on my right had raised her hand and the AC was carrying the smell to me. I wished I could gift her a deodorant on Friendships’ Day. Then I heard the sobbing which I was sure I was hearing for the last half an hour. I turned around to find Debashish, with a handkerchief in his hand, trying desperately to stop the flow from his nose.
I recollected Saturday nights events again. Then it came back to me in a flash. The truck had come to a squealing halt just a couple of inches away from me. I had managed to reach home somehow, bouncing off the corridor walls, and slept off at around 5. At 8, my sadist room-mate splashed a glass of water on me to wake me up. He said “If I am going to attend some stupid lecture on Human Rights on a Sunday morning, then so are you.”
So, here I was, the blaze of the tube-lights almost blinding me. Then I heard the harsh, familiar voice again which caused me to turn my head upwards. My eyes finally fell upon the culprit- the devil responsible for the entire episode. An old gray haired man, speaking monotonously for the past two hours, trying to convince the class that if the police were to encounter Dawood Ibrahim tomorrow, it would be crystal clear violation of Human Rights and he will do his best to protect the interest of such victims. Its time to go back to the death-bed.